Friday, January 28, 2011


A few months ago, Rae of Armommy, asked me if I wanted her to send me some of her products to review.  Of course I was delighted, I have been a fan for a while now...remember this post?  I received the package in the mail a few months ago and moved soon after, so it's been on the back burner for a while.  Now that the sun has decided to make it's appearance for a few days, I thought I had better take advantage and pull the package of goodies out and snap away.  I asked my niece, Kate, to be my little model.  She kindly obliged since it involved being a model and looking cute.

First, here is a picture of Rae and her cute family. Isn't Rae beautiful?

Rae made customized place mats for each of my children.  Since the boys are at the perfect age for wanting to help me set the table, Rae thought it would be fun to send me the place mats that show children where each thing goes.  Brilliant!  Kate didn't need any help and thought it was so fun to set the place setting herself.  You can go to Armommy's shop to see what other goodies they have.  If you like the style of place mat that Rae made for my children, you can see them in her shop.

Meet Kate.  At first she was shy.  

That didn't last too long. 

The place mat.  I think these are so cute.  I love the owl.  They are made of professional grade laminate and are 12x18.  Armommy also does custom orders.  Just send them an email and they will be happy to work with you.

Look how good she is help from me.

Look how hard she is concentrating...the tongue comes out when she is concentrating hard.

Yes, her hair is all natural.  Add a little water, and voila!  Back to the place mats.

The last item placed...the cup.   

The finished product.  These would make the best gifts for those little one's in your life.  

Blake's custom place mat...

and Carter's.

Lastly, she sent me their signature snack bags.  Look how stylish they are.  Plus, they save the environment.  

Just fill them up and velcro them closed. 

Thank you, Rae!  I love it all.  

Go here to view Armommy's blog.  Lot's of creative ideas.

p.s.  Another of my favorites is their smib.

Monday, January 24, 2011

How to Peel and Segment a Grapefruit

Have you ever seen a recipe that called for segments of a grapefruit or an orange, but you skipped that ingredient/step because it sounded too difficult to do?  Well, today's little tutorial should help you the next time you run into that problem.  Segmenting an orange or grapefruit is quite easy, actually.  We eat a good amount of grapefruit in the winter at our house, so I find myself doing this all the time.  I finally got around to making a little tutorial for you.  Let's begin.

First you need to have a sharp knife.  You can use either a chef's knife or a serrated knife.  I used a serrated on this particular day.  Cut each end of the grapefruit off and set aside.  This will allow you to see the "meat" of the fruit underneath it's rind.  It also provides a base for the fruit to sit on while you cut the rind off.  Take your knife and start at the top cutting the skin off as you go.  Be careful not to cut too much of the fruit off because it will end up in the garbage. 

Once you have taken all of the rind off, your grapefruit will look like the picture above.  Now it is time to cut the segments out.  If you used a chef's knife, I would recommend using a paring knife or a smaller serrated knife to help you cut each segment out.  Cut down on one side of the segment and flip your knife over. The segment should push right out.  Sound confusing?  I will link up to a great little video that will show you all about it at the end.

At this point, I have cut a few segments out.  

Here is a picture of a segment almost ready to fall into the bowl.  I couldn't hold my knife in position to show you where it was exactly, because I only have two hands.

Here is another view of the grapefruit.

The empty grapefruit.  Do not just throw that in the trash.  Squeeze all of the juice out of it before you throw it away.

Once you try it out a few times, it becomes a piece of cake and you can do it much faster.  Click on this for a short video tutorial.  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Faux "Bran" Muffins

Faux "Bran" Muffins
from Keeping Up

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups milk
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups old-fashioned oats

Cream together butter and brown sugar.  Add eggs, vanilla, molasses, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix in milk, then add flour and oats.  Mix until combined.  Pour batter into 18 greased muffin cups and bake at 375 for 15 to 20 minutes or until muffin centers spring back when touched.  Serve warm with butter and honey. 

{cooks note}

Wow.  These muffins are 100% whole grain and completely delicious.  My sister brought us over some a month or so ago and I was smitten.  My husband didn't get the chance to try one because the kids and I devoured all of them.  They were that good.  I didn't have any ground wheat already prepared so I ground some in my Blendtec.  I ground 4 cups, just because, and it was finished in 50 seconds.  I really do love this machine.  I know I've convinced a few of you to purchase one, so here is another great way to use it.  If you don't have a wheat grinder already, this one works great for jobs like this.  Side note:  I will still use my Nutrimill for grinding wheat most of the time because I like to adjust how fine it is, but the Blendtec works for those times when I don't want to pull the whole thing out just to grind 2 cups of wheat.

Grinding the wheat.

Fresh ground whole wheat really is the best.

Cream the brown sugar and softened butter together.

Add the eggs, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, molasses and salt.  Mix until just combined.

Add the milk.

Add the ground whole wheat flour and oats together.

Mix until the dry ingredients are just barely wet.  Over mixing will result in a dense muffin with a tall peak and we are looking for light and moist and rounded on the top.  

I sprinkled some oats on the top because I think they look prettier that way.  We eat with our eyes, right?

My husband claimed these were "The best muffins he has ever eaten."  I wouldn't go that far, but they are a pleaser in my house.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lemon Garlic Shrimp

Lemon Garlic Shrimp
from Keeping Up

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound uncooked (medium or large) shrimp, peeled and devained
1 1/2 teaspoons creole seasoning
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

3/4 pound angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and olive oil.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute (do not let brown).  Add shrimp and creole seasoning.  Cook just until shrimp turn pink, stirring often, 4 to 6 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, zest and parsley.  Serve immediately over angel hair pasta.

If you can't find creole seasoning, such as Tony Chachere's or Emeril's Essence, use 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie
from Ina Garten

3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 chicken bouillon cubes
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups medium-diced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

For the pastry:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions and parsley. Mix well.

For the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough tomoisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof bowls. Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

{cooks note}

Warning: this is a labor intensive meal, but worth it.  You could take some short cuts like buying frozen carrots, but those just don't cut it for me.  There are a few things you could definitely prepare ahead of time to make the actual process shorter.  Something I would do differently the next time I make these is to not cube my chicken.  I think I will just buy a whole cooked chicken at Costco or cook my own and then pull the meat off of it.  I didn't really like the texture of the cubed chicken.  That's just me, though.  Oh, and I also just used boneless skinless chicken.  For the pastry, I do not have a food processor...yet.  I just made it the good old fashioned way and it turned out great.  Below is a picture of the reason why I post very little on this blog lately.  She is by my side constantly through this ear infection, cold, flu and most of all teething time. She is scheduled to see an ENT soon, so let's hope that solves the ear problems.  In the picture, she is teething on a cupboard knob.  Nice.

Bake and cube chicken.  Set aside.

Saute onions in butter.  I did not have frozen small whole onions, so I just cut up a yellow onion into larger chunks.

I like to use fresh herbs whenever possible.  Using fresh herbs really makes a difference in certain dishes.  

The filling.  Make sure you cut your carrot so it is bite sized.  

Once the pastry is over all of your pies, spread an egg wash (yolk/water mixture) over the top to help with browning.  Make three slits at the top for air to escape and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

About an hour later you have this to look forward to.  The perfect comfort food for a cold winter evening and it is even better the second day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Crockpot Oatmeal

Crockpot Oatmeal
from Keeping Up

2 cups steel cut oats (not quick or old-fashioned oats)
6 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large apple, peeled and diced
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Stir together ingredients in a greased crockpot.  Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours.  To cook for 8 to 10 hours, add 1 additional cup of water.  Serve oatmeal topped with sliced bananas and toasted nuts, if desired.

{cooks note}

Simple, easy, healthy, wonderful smelling breakfast to wake up to.  A little preparation is needed at night, but that's it.  Sometimes I leave the apples out.  I never add raisins because they are not my thing.  I love fresh or frozen fruit on the top.  Steel cut oats can be purchased at just about any grocery store.  I like to buy mine in the bulk foods section at Winco.  Talk about cheap!